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Ryu looks to step into rotation

Koufax gives Korean tips on how to throw a curve ball

GLENDALE, Arizona (AP) ― Clayton Kershaw is No. 1 and Zack Greinke is No. 2 in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation. There are several interesting candidates vying for slot Nos. 3, 4 and 5.

Ryu Hyun-jin, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are the six who have begun to throw in batting-practice sessions in the second week of spring training at Camelback Ranch.
Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin takes part in a bullpen session. (Yonhap News)
Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin takes part in a bullpen session. (Yonhap News)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has kept a close eye on Billingsley and Lilly. Both are coming off injuries.

Billingsley was sidelined of last season because partial to ligament in his right elbow. He decided to forego surgery for rehabilitation.

Lilly was sidelined for most of last season by a left shoulder injury. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in September.

“Ted feels good,” Mattingly said. “I asked him: ‘Are you rehabbing or feel like you’re one of the guys?’ He said he feels like one of the guys. He’s able to do everything. Same with Billingsley.”

Beckett, Capuano and Harang have experience, which Mattingly believes could result in some important leadership if any of them wind up in the bullpen. Beckett, a right-hander and 12-year veteran, was 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA in seven starts after the Dodgers acquired him an August trade with the Boston Red Sox.

Capuano, a left-hander and an eight-year veteran, was 12-12 last season with 3.72 ERA. Harang, a right-hander and 11-year veteran, was 10-10 last season with a 3.72 ERA.

Ryu, the team’s expansive South Korean import, has created the most buzz in the camp. He threw batting practice for the first time, facing eight non-roster players.

“He was good,” Mattingly said. “He’s been fine. He’s a little sneaky with the fastball. The change-up is good. In talking to guys, you always get the same theme about him: He’s a competitor.”

Mattingly compares Ryu, a left-hander, to David Wells, another left-hander who pitched for nine teams, including the Dodgers in 2007.

“Same body, same delivery,” Mattingly said.

Ryu got some tips from Sandy Koufax, a special assistant on the Dodger staff. He gave Ryu some tips on how to throw a curve ball.

“It was about the grip of the ball,” Ryu said through an interpreter. “It should be deeper in my hand.”

Ryu was familiar with Koufax.

“I know about him quite well,” said Ryu, who in December signed a six-year contract for $36 million. “Everybody in Korea knows about him.”

Odd thing about Ryu, he’s right-handed when it comes to just about everything but pitching. Before throwing 40 pitches during Tuesday session, he played ping-ping right-handed. He eats right-handed. He bats right-handed.

He throws left-handed, he says, because his father in Korea bought him a left-hander’s glove. With the glove on his right hand, he learned how to throw with his left.

“I was 10 years old,” said Ryu, who is scheduled to work one inning Sunday in his first Cactus League appearance against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. “Never did it any other way. I couldn’t throw with my right.”
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